I’m a huge John Carpenter fan. I’ve got a books, CDs, posters and DVD collection of every film he’s ever been involved with from Dark Star to The Ward with everything – and I mean everything – he’s even tangentially been involved in (Vampires: Los Muertos (urgh), Black Moon Rising (okay), El Diablo (still need to see)).
I was a little hesitant when it was announced a few years back that Carpenter was going to release new music but thankfully when I got round to listening to them I thought Lost Themes 1 & 2 were both very good synth albums whose only problem was that there wasn't a kickass movie to accompany them and firmly place the songs in your brain.
When I found
out he was touring to the UK playing the themes from his films and recent
albums Lost Themes 1 & 2, I knew
I had to get tickets. After all, he was playing on October 31st
and what better way to spend Halloween than listening to the director of Halloween playing the theme from Halloween. With it being Oct 31st
the venue suggested fancy dress so I decided to go as a combination of three
Kurt Russell characters – Jack Burton, Snake Plissken and RJ Macready (see
photo – I’m on the right).
was the Troxy in London – a large old fashioned theatre with a seated upper
circle and standing room on the ground floor. Me and my friend Mitch got there around
8 but still managed to get comfortably close to the front. There were a few
good cosplay entries from people that put in more time and effort than me – a few
Jack Burtons (easy – just need the vest), a couple of Michael Myers, a handful
of Snake Plisskens, and some guys wearing full on They Live masks (true dedication given the hot and sweaty
atmosphere in the venue).
the band came on. John dressed completely black, thick framed glasses, his long
white hair tied back in a ponytail. He seemed in very high spirits, bopping
over to his keyboard in the centre of the stage. Throughout the show he'd continue bopping along in the same 'don't give a shit' attitude of his anti-authoritian characters. As to be expected he was a man
of few words, never saying more than a one brief sentence to introduce each song,
but he seemed very comfortable and happy to be on stage.
consisted of 3 guitarists, 1 drummer, John on keyboard and his son Cody on dual
keyboard to the side. They kicked off with the theme from Escape from New York which I loved – it’s my favourite track he’s
ever done – but I was a bit disappointed that he’d began with his high point
rather than built up to it. Still the rest of the concert was good and the band
flitted back and forth between film themes and Lost Themes.
to the stage was a huge white screen which projected clips from the films he
was playing. It was a good idea and the crowd lapped it up. There were whoops
and hollers when certain people and scenes showed up. The first shot of Kurt Russell
as Snake got a cheer which was to be expected but so did the first shot of Adrienne
Barbeau in The Fog which I thought
was a little odd but nice. The whole band put on sunglasses for the theme to They Live which was a fun touch and got a laugh from the audience.
Obviously with Carpenter being accompanied by a full rock band the movie themes were a little rockier and edgier than the original versions but I was happy with their fidelity.
thing I wished he had played but didn't was the song 'Big Trouble in Little China' – that would have brought the house
down – but I guess he considers it a Coup De Villes song maybe. It seemed a much more
obvious choice for an encore than Christine.
from Lost Themes slotted in fairly
well. Unfortunately they didn’t have any clips to play for them which slightly
diminished the theatricality when they played them (could they not have used clips from the
music videos they did?). I think 'Night'
was the only one that struggled to work because it’s such a minimalist song and
basically the band sat back while lead guitarist Daniel Davies had to solo the whole song. 4 minutes is an awful long time for anyone (other than Pete Townshend) to do a guitar solo.
Still all in
all, it was a great show and I’m glad I went. If nothing else I'll never forget looking over the crowd when 'Halloween' was playing and seeing Michael Myers nodding along to it. It was like a surreal meta moment worthy of In the Mouth of Madness. I have a feeling Carpenter may have
found a second career and I’m willing to bet he’ll come round again when Lost
Themes III comes out.
From New York: Main Title
on Precinct 13: Main Title
3. Vortex (from Lost Themes)
4. Mystery (from Lost Themes)
5. The Fog:
Main Title Theme
Live: Coming to L.A.
Thing: Main Theme – Desolation (Ennio Morricone cover)
Dream (from Lost Themes II)
Trouble in Little China: Pork Chop Express
10. Wraith (from Lost Themes)
11. Night (from Lost Themes)
Halloween Theme – Main Title
13. In the
Mouth of Madness: In the Mouth of Madness
of Darkness: Darkness Begins
Survivor (from Lost Themes II)
Purgatory (from Lost Themes)
Christine: Christine Attacks (Plymouth Fury)